Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

September 21, 2008 -

Violent video games are not quite sinful but can involved "departures from God's will," according to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

The issue was raised as a question by a reader of the Synod's website:

Q: I'm very sure that killing/suicide stealing and anything like that is not accounted as an actual sin if it's only in video games. But I'm still not very sure, when I play video games, I'm not murdering at heart because I would never try to take the life of any living thing. And whatever is a video game can't die because it's not alive in the first place, video games are a false alternate reality...

A: As normally defined, taking the life of another in video games (as in acting or in any other fantasy situation) is not a sin against God's prohibition to murder. If, however, what is done in the video game is an expression of hatred or callous disregard for human life, then the heart and motives are wrong, and then it is sin in God's eyes...

 

For the record, however, obsession with video games can involve other departures from God's will... Typically, this can involve a colossal misuse of valuable time and also end up diverting time and attention from more useful and valuable pursuits that better glorify God and serve our neighbor...


Comments

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

In a nutshell? Yes, I would view that as sinful.

If the player is shooting people in a video game, in and of itself, the act is not sinful, as there is nobody being sinned against. Everyone he's shooting is little more than a graphic running on code; odds are good that's all he sees when he pulls the trigger.

In your example, the person killing people in a game is still not a sin in and of itself. However, his motives behind the "killings" are sinful; he's using the game characters as effegies against real people. Therein lies the sin; because he is using the game characters to take out his hatred toward (in this case) black people, there is now someone to sin against: black people.

As long as there's no person connected to a certain character, there is nobody to sin against, therefore, no sin is committed in killing him. It's when that character is associated with a real person in the player's mind that the killing becomes a sin, because now there's a real person that can be sinned against involved.

Now, multiplayer can be placed in the same light, except the concept is reversed; there IS someone to sin against, but any "sin" taking place is directed toward the avatars, not the players controlling them. Go watch a Halo match on Youtube; players are laughing and cutting up with each other, even while their avs are getting headshotted. Nobody's trying to kill anybody, here. It's all in the spirit of competition, just like hitting someone with a ball in dodgeball or pelting someone with paint in paintball.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

I believe that was what the guy was trying to get at with his answer. That when people take real-life hatreds and apply them to their actions in the game, it becomes a problem. At least that's how I understood his words.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Exactly, only you, and God knows what is in your heart, or what is your motivation. If it is filled with hate and anger, it really doesn't matter what you are doing, that hate and anger makes it wrong. But, the church, or really, anyone living in this world really cannot make that judgment call, it is something personal between you and God, nothing more.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

I'd like to point out something that grinds my gears when the "Video Games are a waste of time" card gets played.

How is sitting in front of the TV for three hours playing, say, Forza 2 any more of a time waster than watching a Football game for the same ammount of time? But you never hear anything about viewing sports making Jesus cry.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

That is an interesting assumption to make, for all you know he has told some just that. I bet he has told more than one person that missing church for a Sunday football game is bad.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

He does, in that very same article. The complete answer is listed in the link, and includes this little bit:

"The same, of course, is true of a lot of forms of entertainment or diversions from useful labor or education (e.g., watching TV, movies, constantly listening to music but doing little other than that)."

I don't have any problem with what this guy said, really, it just being misunderstood by a lot of people. Obsession with an form of entertainment is generally not a good thing.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

As the W.E.L.S. is the synod I am a member of, I am glad to see a very simple position on this -- violent video games aren't inherently sinful, rather than using the stndard scapegoat, the synod is basically placing the responsibility on the individual player for his or her own actions.

The rest of it is a pretty cut and dry, standard concept that basiclly obsessing over video games, like obsessing over anything, is generally not a good thing.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Does the bible go into the "anything" group?

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Clearly more game creators need to claim God told them to make the game.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

If you play chess, you are killing people like in warfare. Is that murder?

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

I always thought the pieces were captured

岩「…Ace beats Jack」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

For advanced interrogation techniques?

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

They Chessboard them ;)

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

 Thus, this is why I'm athiest :)

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

You're an atheist because Christians say stupid things?  Wow, I can't imagine the trouble you have being a human. ;)

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Sadly no of us can denounce that.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Agreed.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

@DarkSaber

The idea there is that if you truly glorify God, then serving your neighbor will be a logical result. In the Christian worldview, God is the ultimate authority, so primary allegiance goes to him. Following God's commands should then come from a desire to follow his will.

@DoggySpew

What they're saying is that your mental state is a determinant in whether or not your actions in-game are a sin. Matthew 5:28 says "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." The gist is that by focusing your mind on doing sinful things, you create sinful patterns of thought. By keeping your mind away from doing sinful things, you are more likely to refrain from sinning intentionally.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Matthew 5:28 says "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

That verse is one of the verses that just show Jesus of Nazarath was just plain out evil. Trying to set up a totalitarian dictatorship by making up impossible standards "so you need to be saved". What an asshole!

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

trouble is that I find that passage to be utterly retarded

United we Stand, Divided we fall.

There have always been motherf*ckers, there will always be motherf*ckers, but what we can't do is let them control our motherf*cking lives. -John Oliver, December 1st, 2008

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

The article is directed to a Christian audience, and they are assumed to be attempting to follow God's commands and the teachings of the Bible. Thus, the passage has applicability to this article and to Christians. If you are not a Christian, you are not the main intended audience, and are also not expected to be following Christian standards.

If you are saying that as a Christian, though, I would suggest praying and contemplating why you think that way about the passage.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

I knew i shouldn't have clicked on the comments, but I couldn't stop myself. I'm not sure what inspires the overwhelming anti-religious sentiment among gamers, but it gets real old, real fast. Here's the cliffnotes version of the Reverend's statement for those that didn't even finish the title before they started spewing flames. 1) Playing violent games is not wrong, playing out violent games purely to indulge in the violence is. It's worth noting that one of our go-to defenses against the anti-gaming lobby is that violent games don't make people violent, but violent people do play violent games. 2) Playing games obsessively is bad (ie way more than is healthy). That's time that could be better spent working, volunteering, or spending time with your family.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Because video games teach you to learn when things don't work and otherwise think for yourself. Not a good thing in organized religions.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

It actually has been the overwhelming anti-religious sentiment among the posters in this site's forums that have pushed me away from ever going to them again. The knee-jerk hatred and bile responses are more than just getting old, it is blatantly offensive, and daring anyone to try to stand up to it and get bashed for it. All more or less permitted without any real moderation or control, I just plain got fed up with it, which is a shame, because I did like this site's forums.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

"I'm not sure what inspires the overwhelming anti-religious sentiment among gamers"

Because religious people have the overwhelming tendency of not only being against video games in general, but also to force their views on others, and that's a real problem. Look at christian initiatives against gay marriage, to teach creationism in schools, or - to not only scorn christianity - muslims crying for censorship in Europe or sharia courts in the UK.
Listen, in private, you can believe what you want. You believe that the earth is 6000 years old, or that your soul comes from an alien being placed in a volcano 75 billion years ago? Fine by me - just don't force such ludicrous bullshit on me, ok?

 

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Not all religious people are right-wing wingnuts.  Just saying.

Actually, a great deal of us are moderates who believe in things like science and understand scripture in a very different matter than the biblical literalists who get all the press because they're, well, loud and crazy.  For the record as a trained theologian I can say that the Earth is assuredly far more than 7,000 years old (science tells us that), homosexuality is a lot more complicated a topic than our media portrays the religious viewpoint (I personally don't feel it's a sin), and if you play video games you aren't damned to Hell.

The WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) is a very conservative branch of Lutheran Christianity, not representative of 90% of Lutherans out there.  Just like there are a ton of different Baptist organizations (not all of which are Biblical literalists) there are a lot of different sects of many denominations of Christianity.  There are many different views on a great deal of issues.  To say that all Christians are the same and push their views on others is like saying that all Republicans hate science (there ARE a couple that don't, I checked!) or that there is no difference between Shia and Sunni (thanks, Dubya).

In short, let's keep from broad generalizations, okay?

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

It could be the overwelming number of religious people who are anti-games/gamers or at least their were untill churches heard about Halo and thought it was good wholesome cristian fun which i find ironic

United we Stand, Divided we fall.

There have always been motherf*ckers, there will always be motherf*ckers, but what we can't do is let them control our motherf*cking lives. -John Oliver, December 1st, 2008

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

No, I'm just passive aggressive.

Also, the plain test editor has foiled me again.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Is molesting children in real life still not a sin?

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? The WELS is not the bloody Roman Catholic church.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

The Catholics don't exactly have a monopoly on child rape you know. There are many reports of the same crimes from evangelical pastors, Anglican preists, etc. Protastants have the same issue too.

To be fair Christianity doesn't exactly have a monopoly on this issue either, schools and scouts also share this problem. The Catholic Church is an easy target because its so common due to their size and have had very high ranking figures participating in cover ups (the current pope in his last role included).

But dont think your non-catholic churches are free from paedophile preists and pastors. Baptists, pentecostals, methodists, evangelicals, anglicans have all had these sick f**k's under their banners so don't start getting all high and mighty.

Look at that Mormon sect that was busted earlier this year!

Another Fail!

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

My poin is that the initial argument was a fallacy. It would be like accusing all gamers as being rampant murderers because the Columbine guys happened to play DOOM. When you take specific situations and apply a blanket rule to a general population from it, you are little better than ol' Jackie boy.

However, I'm rapidly losing any faith or hope of a sane and mature discussion in this article, it seems instead religion bashing is on the platter, doesn't matter if the article was pointing out hat there is at least one church organization that happens to agree with gamers that Games aren't inherently evil. All that seems to matter is "religion is bad!" and I'm tired of it. Thanks to the people here, I'll probably just stop bothering with this site any further. It is a real shame that it has come to this.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

You must be a nut case for taking this topic this serious, haha

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Anything that feels that good MUST be a sin.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

 "If, however, what is done in the video game is an expression of hatred or callous disregard for human life, then the heart and motives are wrong, and then it is sin in God's eyes..."

So, cowboys and indians is a sinfull game, cops and robbers also. Many childhood games without using videogames are sinfull.

Unless it is God himself that orders you to kill.

 

 

 

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Not at all, that is not what he is saying. If you are expressing hatred or callous disregard for human life in how you are playing it personally, that makes it a sin in God's eyes. The games themselves are not the problem, the responsibility is placed on the individual playing the game.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Taking bets on how long until Jack is on here ranting again.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I AM DOOMED TO HAUNT JACK THOMPSON'S DREAMS UNTIL HIS CRUSADE AGAINST VIDEO GAMES ENDS.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I AM DOOMED TO HAUNT JACK THOMPSON'S DREAMS UNTIL HIS CRUSADE AGAINST VIDEO GAMES ENDS.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

@Anonymous

I think what was meant by that was not locking yourself in a room playing 10 hours a day by yourself.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

I like how they place 'better glorify God' BEFORE 'serve our neighbour'.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Jehova is selfish and insecure in his place in the universe, it seems.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

That is because Christ taught that the Greatest of all commandments is to love God with all your heart might mind and strenghth. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Yep, that's the summation of the 10 commandments.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Because that how they are always supposed to order it?

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Better time like going to church and giving us money!

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Unnecessarily insulting. If, let's say, I had a wife and kids, and spent 100% of my time I'm not at work, paying a MMO, and neglecting/ignoring my family, am I doing what is right? Isn't that a bit excessive and more than a little obsessive? Am I doing a service, or disservice to my family? That's the kind of thing that is being pointed out -- obsessing about something, anything -- beit video games, movies, sports, whatever, is not a healthy situation. It isn't saying that everyone obsesses, or even implying that. It merely is pointing out that the obsession isn't a good thing.

On the other point, it is saying that killing people in video games isn't a sin, unless in your heart you are sinning, but that is something between you and God to know, not something the Church is in an authority to decide.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

That's exactly what I always say. And to add, how can they pretend to know god's will? Give me a break.

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

No need to pretend. God's will is written out, quite plainly, in the Bible. Written so a child can understand it.

"I'm not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

"I'm stel not responcabel fer my comuter's spleling errnors." -- Xlorep DarkHelm

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

Plainly? How many translations and commentaries are there on the Bible?

To me, plainly means unambigous. There's plenty of ambiguity given the number of Biblical Scholars.

 

Re: Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

When- and how- the hell did 'God" pick up a pen, or run a printing press? Was he there for the editorial process? Were there any "creative liberties" taken?

The book is written by humans. Regardless of whether or not they were high or if the really WERE talking to "God", that doesn't mean there's no room for error or misinterpretation.

 
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